One trucker has taken to YouTube to expose the pressure put on drivers to deliver loads on time, regardless of the risks of drowsy driving.
Last month, ABC News sat down with 28-year-old Abe Attallah from Detroit, Michigan on their television show 20/20. Attallah found himself struggling to stay awake behind the wheel while hauling a load of tomatoes to Wisconsin earlier this year. He was making the 400 mile trip late at night and realized after 4 hours of driving that he was drifting into microsleep, a condition where the brain shuts off for few seconds while the driver’s eyes remain open.
Attallah knew how deadly the consequences of drowsy driving could be, which encouraged him to make the decision to pull into a truck stop to call his company dispatcher to put an end to his travel. “Driving a semi-tractor like this, any small mistake can take a life,” he told 20/20.
Surprisingly, the multiple dispatchers he spoke with tried to push him to keep driving regardless of Attallah citing his state of sleep deprivation, suggesting coffee, a walk in the cold weather, threatening to cut his pay and calling his sleepiness dramatic. Attallah recorded all of the action and uploaded the video to YouTube.
“We are the most familiar and generally the safest people to next to on the road,” Attallah said. “But there are the circumstances where companies and drivers will put money ahead of safety.”
Attallah said that he was tired because of the new Federal law that requires all truckers get a 10 hour rest period between runs. His company gave him a 1 hour haul after he’d just came off of a 10 hour rest period where he slept well then, placed him back on another rest period. That decision knock his body clock off track, he couldn’t sleep during the second break after having slept during the first 10 hour break. “I am not a robot. I don’t have an on and off switch, you know?” he said.
Between scheduling issues, tight schedules, the pressure to make money and the new regulations, there is plenty reason to be on the lookout for drowsy driving in the trucking industry. Attallah made a brave, wonderful decision to possibly save lives by getting off the road, follow his lead by playing it smart when it comes to sleep and driving. It only takes one second, one mistake to change your life.